Mixers and audio interfaces

anyone got any recommendations/opinions on budget usb DACs? my slowly dying laptop’s headphone jack has now decided to break down. I have my interface for if I need to do serious work or anything demanding, so looking in the super budget range just to substitute having a headphone jack on the laptop. just need it to not be a- garbage b-usable with my DT770s.

This would be a good option for a DAC to replace a headphone jack: https://www.schiit.com/products/fulla-1

3 Likes

I use the Audioquest DragonFly Black($100) to replace the headphone jack on my Lenovo x230 and have used with my MBP, works great on Mac and Linux. It sounds really good and is super portable.

For a super cheap option the Behringer UCA 202(less than $30), has a headphone output, and is a full 2x2 interface with monitoring. It sounds decent, and is really portable but less so than the DragonFly.

Both recommendations assume you have the 80ohm DT-770.

1 Like

yeah I went for the 80 ohms so I could use them with an ipod. I was looking at the Dragon Fly Black but I’m still looking for something even more budget since really its something I don’t want to have to buy to begin with. But I def want one that is in that USB key format, anything much bigger is too much to mess with for the laptop on the couch. I’ve been scrounging around for super budget options and found some decent looking Chinese options- Sharkoon DAC and DAC AUDIO SA9023A, which supposedly uses some of the same internals as one of the Dragonfly models for about 20 bucks. Only works with laptops, but thats good enough for me. Might take the chance on it at that price… will report back.

1 Like

I was pleasantly surprised by this! The basic idea is that it becomes the hub for all your audio ins and with a single record button you can capture all your feeds in multitrack right on the desk. Really thought out is the idea that you record your channels dry but you‘ll always record the aux returns and the master out. It can plug into your daw via usb as well…
The on board fx are decent, the reverb sounds expensive even :smiley: very clean audiopath and no compromise in build quality.
We used this this in a jam session with various free floating instruments. One of these jams where you realise around 2am that the jam is really something special. My friend hit that record button hours ago and this also means you are completely free from the stigma that you need recording once you start to jam. 128giga SD cards go a long way…Uli even tells you how many hours you can still record-:laughing:

3 Likes

A rather “full featured” take on “minimal”.
(Edit: Refers to the preceding post, but it made more sense when it was in the Minimal mixers thread.)

3 Likes

+1 for this, spent the Christmas holiday jamming with two friends using one of these, and it’s great!
We have to use a USB disk, though, it refuses to write 16 channels at 96/24 to SD.

A question for you all about mixer repair/maintenance. Hope this is the right place for it. I dug up my old Mackie 1204 the other day and it is really crackly. Almost every knob and fader gives some kind of crackle and some channels need to be turned all the way up before they "wake up’ and start passing audio through. Does this sound like something that I could repair/clean myself? anyone have good advice/links for ways to go about it?

While I’m not 100% sure about the Mackie’s construction, if you can get all the knobs and the panel off (or somehow access the pots/board), I would spray a little DeOxit in each pot and work them back and forth. There may be a small opening or hole in the pot/slider housing to achieve this. Otherwise, try doing this without the DeOxit and working the knobs back and forth until the scratchiness goes away. What you describe sounds like dirty potentiometers and should be generally fixable unless its been dropped or otherwise injured during its time in storage. The fact that they eventually pass audio is a good sign.

2 Likes

Updating now that I’ve taken the MOTU M4 around the block a little bit. Setup is super easy (even with Windows - only needed to download a driver / interface app). I’m running through a pair of 500 Series Hairball Audio mic pres that I built into the 3/4 inputs on the back and everything is working as expected. The MOTU seems to have a ton of headroom. I can really blast it on the inputs with no clipping. Even better - the input/output meters are fantastic and really helpful. The display is great and seems like it would be really nice in low-light situations, should you get one (or an M2) for gigging. I haven’t tried out inputs 1 and 2 yet, so I can’t speak to the onboard preamps, but I should be able to give that a go soon.

More Pros:

  • bus-powered
  • on/off switch (even though it’s bus-powered)
  • direct monitoring, so I don’t have to fire up a computer when I want to jam with hardware
  • headphone jack on the front
  • price ($229 US)

I can’t really find any faults yet, though my needs are somewhat basic. One of the “MON” push buttons was installed upside-down so it actually says “NOW” hehe. I guess those little cosmetic defects can be expected on an early production unit.

It’s pretty simple in connections and usage, but that’s exactly what I wanted. Big :+1:t3: from me.

edit: @eblomquist - I updated with more info on the MOTU M4

3 Likes

Concur! Just got my M4 a few days ago (after years without an interface), and I love the build/sonic quality and ease of use.

1 Like

I’m feeling like I’m getting into the market for a new mixer. I have a 12 channel Mackie that has served me really well but I think I’m better suited with a 16 channel. Had my eyes on the soundcraft signature 16, the Yamaha mg16xu, the tascam model 16 something in that price range. I really would like something with 3 sends (could handle 2 if there’s a nice reverb on board). Anything else I should look at or anyone have any good experiences with these? Mainly using for live performance.

I have the Soundcraft 12mtk and find it really useful for live performance. I imagine the 16 would be even better. Reliable etc. Only thing is I need a bigger bag/transport for it up from my Mackie 12.

1 Like

Mackie 1604VLZ4 or 1642VLZ4, depending on what you need, are still pretty decent mixers for the money. If you want really high quality though, that is durable, great sounding, and can do double duty studio/stage, the Allen & Heath Zed series can’t be beat in their price range.

Are you inputting modular level without using an output module then? Always a bit hesitant to do this, but I only have a stereo output and don’t want to get another one.I actually picked one of these up yesterday as an upgrade to my Steinberg UR22 I’ve used for awhile (it’s fine, but the extra I/O and DC coupling of the M4 will be useful).

I’m finally getting frustrated with my k-mix (audio quality and stability) and am looking for another option. I only really need 4-in/4-out and I don’t really need the mixer interface for my pretty simple set-up right now (largely just built around incorporating norns).

the new motu interfaces look nice and I’m also disappointed that the new ssl interfaces don’t have more channels. also figuring the new ssl stuff means that we’ll see an ssl six with audio interface capabilities soon, which wouldn’t really be in my budget but sounds very nice.

I don’t have any modular anymore, but I do have some devices that output hot signals. I’d say if you have any kind of output with an attenuator, you can send it into the MOTU. Even without, the MOTU can probably take it. However, I don’t have any empirical data to support that. I would suggest putting the stereo out into inputs 3/4 and any other signals through inputs 1/2. I found that even with a hotter signal, I still had to turn up the gain on input 1/2.

For reference, the studio standard of +24dBu is equal to 34.72 volts peak to peak or +/- 17.36V. Since modular can generally never exceed +/-15V peak, if your audio interface is specified to handle +24dBu at the input (professional +4dBu line level usually has this for headroom) it can easily handle full range modular without damage. The euro standard of +19dBu headroom is just shy of +/-10V (peak) so is usually safe too for all but the highest modular levels. And both of them will trivially handle the more typical +/-5V signals.

10 Likes

Hi guys,

I think my audio interface is not grounded properly, because if I use it all my synths give me electric shocks…anyone had that experience?

This being said, I am looking for a mixer which can also be used as an audio interface (individual tracks sent to ableton live) which is also affordable. Is that a dream?

I think the best bet for this at the moment is the Soundcraft Signature 12 and 22 MTK. The former is about $500, which I think is a really fair price for what you get. Tascam and PreSonus have similar models but they’re more expensive.

1 Like